Showing posts with label Angat. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Angat. Show all posts

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Bulacan: Ipo Watershed, Angat Dam and the La Mesa Ecopark... Save the Ipo Watershed!

The Ipo Watershed is part of a larger water system which includes Angat and La Mesa. It serves as the major water source of Metro Manila. There's been some buzz about the Ipo Watershed lately, particularly from the UP Mountaineers, who have been advocating its protection, especially from kaingin, and other factors that are leading to the rapid loss of its forest cover. So when we found out about their tree-planting activity, we didn't have to think twice and found ourselves on the road to Norzagaray, Bulacan.

Unless you make prior arrangements, you may not be allowed inside the Ipo Dam area. We parked right by the dam. First thing I noticed was an NHI marker commemorating the Battle of Ipo Dam during the Second World War. We walked to the other side of the dam where boats were waiting to take us to the activity site. It was about 3 kilometers upstream and the ride was roughly 30 minutes.

Don't miss remnants of the older dam 200 meters from the current Ipo Dam since that's industrial heritage! It was wonderful seeing the clean water and lush cover of trees. But just several weeks back, there had been signs of illegal logging and kaingin in the area. It's really stupid what some people are doing! Imagine losing this watershed and ultimately, the water supply of Metro Manila.

From where our boat docked, it was a really short hike up a hill to the reforestation area. The activity was almost done when we arrived. But we managed to plant a few seedlings before hiking further up to check out the wonderful view of the Angat River from the top. The group was able to plant 475 seedlings that day. But it's a far cry from what illegal loggers are cutting-down deep in the Sierra Madre where no one can see them.

We didn't stay long since the event was almost done so we decided to ask our boat to bring us further upstream so that we could check out the Angat Dam.

That was another thirty minutes upstream. The dam is actually a rockfill dam and you won't be able to recognize it easily since it's covered by grass. The concrete structure you see is actually the spillway with three gates. Again, the river offered us refreshing views.

It was a long ride back to Ipo Dam, about 45 minutes to one hour if I remember it right. As soon as we got back, we made our way to San Jose del Monte for a late lunch.

We had one last stop before calling it a day, and that's the La Mesa Dam. And to see it, you had to go to the La Mesa Ecopark. We had a hard time finding the entrance which is in a village along Commonwealth Avenue. One way to get in is through Winston Street.

The bad news was we could not take photos of the dam itself for security reasons! That was a big disappointment. But we got to enjoy some of the activities in the park though such as boating in the lagoon and the riding the zipline which was really fun! We spent PHP50 each for entrance (QC residents and students get a discount so don't forget to bring your IDs), PHP200 for a 30-minute boat ride, and PHP100 each for the zipline. Not bad!

And with that, we completed our tour of Metro Manila's sources of water! Read more in Pinoy Mountaineer.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Bulacan: Unplanned roadtrip in Bulacan

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been on a road trip. And today’s itinerary was a spur of the moment decision. Since we needed more photos for the 2007 HCS calendar which would feature capitols, city halls and municipios; and since Gemma said Baliuag has a historical one, I decided to make a detour into northeastern Bulacan on the way back to Manila from Pampanga.

I exited in Pulilan and passed by the town proper (the church is right along the national highway). There were several charming bahay na bato and chalets along the way. Maybe next year I’ll try to watch the Carabao Festival from May 14 to 15, again held in honor of San Isidro Labrador. This festival is also held in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and Angono, Rizal.

From Pulilan, I was off to Baliuag to take a photo of their old municipio which is now a museum. I like the way Baliuag is planned, with a glorieta in the middle of town. The church and convento are well-preserved. In front of the church is a grand monument to Dr. Jose Rizal complete with a pair of sphinxes on either side which is so art deco.

The old municipio is a few meters away along the road to San Miguel. After taking some snapshots, and since I felt like exploring some more, I decided to visit San Miguel de Mayumu since the municipio there was also built during the Spanish colonial period. It however wasn’t the main attraction of the town.

I’ve been there several years back and the elegant colonial homes were just splendid! But I was surprised to find many of them in a state of decay, including the three-storey Victorian Cake House which is always featured in coffee table books on Philippine architectural heritage.

There is a twist to the third floor since this was rare in the bahay na bato. According to the story, "a macho farmer married the landowner's daughter. To out-do his father-in-law, the farmer built the tallest house in the area: so that the father, on passing the threshhold, had to look up to his son-in-law! The third level had a massive ballroom where the elite would throw balls as entertainment between sugar crops."

San Miguel is one of the few well-preserved towns which have yet to be declared by the National Historical Institute. Yes, the NHI board has yet to declare San Miguel, Bulacan and many other heritage towns! And while these historians sit down and take their time, many centuries-old homes are going down, taken for granted by the very institution mandated to protect them.

How sad it was to see a well-preserved heritage town in such a sorry state. I wonder why the Provincial Government of Bulacan, which I have known to be a staunch advocate of culture and the arts, is allowing these houses to decay and remain in such a state of neglect given that San Miguel’s ancestral homes are among the showcases of the province?

On the way back, I took a photo of the Ilusorio House in San Ildefonso which was along the highway. Aside from its outstanding architectural features, the house stands as a poignant reminder of the horrors of the Second World War where women from an entire barangay (Mapanique, Candaba) were locked and raped repeatedly by their Japanese captors. These wives, mothers and daughters, collectively known as the Malaya Lolas, had lost their husbands, fathers and sons who were tortured and massacred by the Japanese Imperial Army. Sigh!

It was also suggested that I pass by San Rafael to check out the old houses. There were some nice ones but not as much as San Miguel. Since I was in San Rafael, might as well visit the church in Angat which was featured in the book of Fathers Javellana and Galende, Great Churches of the Philippines.

The exterior was charming! But the interior was just shocking, an excessive use of gold leaf! Just to make things clear, what was done inside the Angat Church was a renovation and not a restoration. For it to be a restoration, it must approximate the original interior of the church.

The new ceiling murals were just too loud and modern for the old colonial charm of this church. As I told a friend (the one who did the interior was also a friend), you don’t put opulence when it was previously not there. In fact, the elegance of the Angat Church was in its simplicity, now erased by a rampage of gold leaf.

One must not impose his style on an old church. That goes for priests, parish pastoral councils and the architects and interior designers they hire to renovate them, who most of the time go overboard with decorations and details. We must leave old churches as they are because these are testaments to the craftsmen and artisans who designed them.

Additions should not overpower the original design. I wonder how these architects and interior designers would feel if a hundred years from now, their works would be eradicated by future architects and interior designers who like them impose their style on previous masterpieces.

Anyway, enough said. From Angat, it was off to Manila. I took the longer, more scenic route via Norzagaray. The foothills of the Sierra Madre offered a relaxing view. But there were eyesores as well, quarrying plants and their towering machinery. Sigh! The drive was quite long thanks to the slow traffic as I neared Metro Manila. It would take me to San Jose del Monte City, North Caloocan and finally, Fairview where traffic management was horrible! Mayor Belmonte should fire his traffic enforcers and ban undisciplined jeepney drivers. Hmmmm... there wouldn't be any jeeps left then! Hehe! I had driven a total of seven hours! And now it's time for me to rest.
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